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Continuing this thought:

Learning English as a second language I was taught that suspension points meant uncertainty, omission of words or interrupted thoughts. There are plenty of threads explaining the meaning but I'm looking for explanation on a few examples:

  • In subjects of emails. Email subjects should be short and to the point, why use suspension points.
  • Before and after a quoted block of text, not the quote itself but the preceeding/proceeding sentence(s). For example As noted by John Smith... [quote] ...pay close attention to this or that, etc, etc.
  • At the begining of a sentence (the opening sentence) of an article. There is no mention of previous conversation, article, quote, etc.

The only time that I use suspension points is when quoting text to indicate I took part of a sentence, or that it continues on. However, I wrap it with a brackets, like so [...].

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Virtually all “popular” use of suspension points, such as in text messages and informal email, are uses that are at extreme variance with the prescribed use of this punctuation mark in Standard English.

Instead, the ellipsis has come to be used as some sort of general-purpose mark of punctuation that would be better written as a period (fullstop), a comma, a semicolon, a colon, an em dash, or parentheses — depending on the particular situation.

In short, Standard English does not use the ellipsis in these ways, and has a fairly constrained set of proper uses of them. You should avoid these “popular” uses as an any-possible-punctuation wildcard in writing, because it marks the writer as writing in a different dialect than Standard English.

It is fine to use them for omitted text, especially as you have done here. It is probably a poor idea to use them as a Gosh-I-dunno emoticon.

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Tchrist is correct but has omitted the perfectly valid informal uses of an ellipsis. It's commonly employed to denote a pause in narrated speech, for example. With increased use of written online communications in place of speech, it's now normal to use 'emoticon' punctuation as a quick-and-dirty means of conveying the writer's intended tone and cadence. This is not grammatically 'correct' but has become usual ... linguistic developments; don'cha love 'em?!

See 'Informal Uses'. Also see 'Interrobang'.

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+1 for using suspension points in your explanation! –  gSaenz Jan 10 '13 at 21:00
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